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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 15:13 GMT
Arab TV satire angers Israel
Kuwaiti actor Daoud Hussein
A Kuwaiti actor is made up to look like Ariel Sharon
An Arab television station has come under fierce criticism after broadcasting a satirical show depicting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a blood-drinking terrorist.

The series, called "Tales of Terror", is being shown on Abu Dhabi and Kuwaiti TV to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A major firm of advertisers has decided to withdraw its commercials from the programme in protest and another is considering doing the same.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Sharon is shown drinking the blood of Arab children
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres called the show "repulsive" after excerpts were shown on Israeli TV and said Israel would complain to the United Nations about the programme.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who was in Israel seeking to revive peace talks with the Palestinians, denounced the satire as "a scandal".

In the comedy, Mr Sharon, who is played by Kuwaiti actor Daoud Hussein, is shown drinking the blood of Arab children and shooting captured Arabs.

Advertisements pulled

The programme has also angered its sponsors.

US consumer giant Procter & Gamble is withdrawing an advert for shampoo from the show, saying it avoided "morally ambivalent" programmes.

Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Peres wants the UN to intervene

Another company, Italian chocolate-maker Ferrero, said it would also pull one of its commercials.

"We will take immediate steps to end our participation in the programme," said the firm's Israeli product manager Zion Daya.

However, the director of Abu Dhabi TV, Ismail Abdullah, dismissed the criticism, saying Mr Peres had lost his sense of humour.

"Instead of getting angry at the media, Israel should take a close look at its policies and stop shooting Palestinians," Mr Abdullah told the United Arab Emirates news agency.

See also:

19 Nov 01 | Middle East
Powell praised for Mid-East speech
17 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israelis leave West Bank town
16 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israeli anger over Peres' UN speech
23 May 01 | Middle East
Mitchell report: Main points
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